Training programs in communication systems design - also called telecommunication systems design - teach students to plan, design, build, and repair communications systems that use electromagnetism. An associate degree in the field might prepare graduates for careers as technicians or telecommunications equipment installers and repairers. A bachelor's degree could prepare graduates for careers as telecommunications or electrical engineers.
Graduate degrees can help graduates advance to managerial or leadership roles in the engineering industry. Master's degrees typically require a thesis or research project.
Associate of Science in Communications Engineering Technology
Preparation during these 2-year programs can include work in technical writing, electrical codes, and wiring. Applicants must be high school graduates. Communication systems professionals can enable the functionality of satellites, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and radar systems. Graduates are prepared for work involving operations, network management, systems design and field service. Training in the core aspects of this field includes:
- Technical calculations
- Logic design
- Electronics drawing
- Circuit analysis
- Direct and alternating current
- Assembly language
Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering Technology
Wireless communication, data communication and the fundamentals of networking theory are all taught in these 4-year programs. Students can expect to learn about security systems management, information theory and network design as they relate to applications like remote sensing and broadcast maintenance. Because careers in these fields require a significant amount of hands-on work, programs require practical experience in addition to classroom hours. Students prepare for jobs like optical network design and mobile communications maintenance by learning about subjects like analog vs. digital design and computer networking. These types of programs can include coursework in:
- System programming
- Network design
- Information security
- Differential equations
- Computer architecture
Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering
In order to design for interoperability among the five main kinds of telecommunications systems, graduate students are required to participate in significant amounts of hands-on work. Both thesis and project-based tracks are available to students in these 18-24 month programs. Careers for master's degree graduates can be found at the engineering and managerial-levels in integrated networking for mass communications. Students learn to account for statistically random variables, process digital images and prevent signals from jamming. Programs can offer coursework in:
- Processing statistical signals
- Satellite communications
- Design of microprocessor systems
- Light wave communication
- Computer networking
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 139,080 people were employed as electrical and electronic engineering technicians in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Graduates of associate-level training programs were qualified for the following jobs:
- Technician in VoIP support
- Specialist in telecom operations
- Information technology service technician
- Telecommunications engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS projected little or no change in job opportunities for electrical engineers for the 2014-2024 decade. Despite the projected consistently-high demand for new electronic products, limited domestic growth was forecast due to international competition for these jobs. In May 2015, the BLS listed the median annual wage for professional electrical and electronics engineers at $95,230.
Careers in research and academia require doctoral-level training. Students who have graduated from bachelor's programs in electrical engineering or computer science programs are typically eligible to apply for relevant Ph.D. programs.
Students who are interested in communication system design can enroll in an undergraduate or graduate-level program that covers the fundamentals of telecommunications. These programs provide training in a wide range of computer- and engineering technology-related subjects.